The abode of Lord Venkateswara is all set to be developed as an Information Technology destination or a manufacturing hub, if the signals from those close to the new government are any indication.
Sandwiched between the metropolitan cities of Chennai and Bangalore and having proximity to Krishnapatnam and Chennai ports, Tirupati is considered ideal to locate any industry. Manpower requirement can be pooled up from the educational hub.
The IT SEZ formed near Renigunta airport is yet to be fully functional, though work on the incubation centre is nearing completion. It was in January 2014 that the then IT Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah announced to establish IT Investment Region (ITIR) near Yerpedu. Though top companies from Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore provide IT solutions to local institutions including the TTD, they do not have a local office. Making Tirupati the IT hub depends on the ‘anchor company’ that first lands here.
The establishment of NTPC-BHEL Power Projects Limited (NBPPL) and Sri City SEZ were widely expected to spur growth of manufacturing industry. Considered an extension of Chennai, Sri City witnessed growth, but NBPPL suffers from lack of governmental support. Setting up hardware industry or manufacturing units will provide large scale employment, if express highways and high-speed trains are planned up to Chennai.Fears on Tirupati
The ancient city is known for its centuries-old temples, practices religiously adhered to by the denizens and the adoption of a traditional approach to issues. Simply put, Tirupati has not shed its ‘conservative’ face to embrace modern practices and lifestyle. “IT industry means discotheques and pub culture, which is not good for us,” a priest in a local temple told this newspaper, requesting anonymity.
However, the IT industry rubbishes the ‘unfounded fear’. “We can develop a satellite IT city beyond the airport, which means development without disturbing the spiritual ambience of the core town,” says Hari M. Pendyala, president of Tirupati Information Technology Association (TITA), citing the Pune example. Tirupati may be conservative, but the ‘spiritual’ tag should do it only good and not harm, feels A.Ramakrishna, a biotechnology student.
The educated and entrepreneurial youth now expect the Chandrababu Naidu regime to replicate Hyderabad’s ‘Hi Tech’ success story here and also bestow the ‘preferred IT destination’ status on Tirupati.